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Internal Migration in the United States

  • Raven Molloy
  • Christopher L. Smith
  • Abigail Wozniak

This paper examines the history of internal migration in the United States since the 1980s. By most measures, internal migration in the United States is at a 30-year low. The widespread decline in migration rates across a large number of subpopulations suggests that broad-based economic forces are likely responsible for the decrease. An obvious question is the extent to which the recent housing market contraction and the recession may have caused this downward trend in migration: after all, relocation activity often involves both housing market activity and changes in employment. However, we find relatively small roles for both of these cyclical factors. While we will suggest a few other possible explanations for the recent decrease in migration, the puzzle remains. Finally, we compare U.S. migration to other developed countries. Despite the steady decline in U.S. migration, the commonly held belief that Americans are more mobile than their European counterparts still appears to hold true.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.25.3.173
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/jep/app/2503_molloy_app.pdf
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 173-96

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:3:p:173-96
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.3.173
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  2. Treyz, George I, et al, 1993. "The Dynamics of U.S. Internal Migration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(2), pages 209-14, May.
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  14. Saks, Raven E. & Wozniak, Abigail, 2007. "Labor Reallocation over the Business Cycle: New Evidence from Internal Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 2766, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  16. Larry Long, 1991. "Residential Mobility Differences among Developed Countries," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 14(2), pages 133-147, August.
  17. Gerald Carlino & Satyajit Chatterjee, 2001. "Employment deconcentration: a new perspective on America's postwar urban evolution," Working Papers 01-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  18. Michael R. Haines, 1994. "The Population of the United States, 1790-1920," NBER Historical Working Papers 0056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Bruce Fallick & Charles A. Fleischman, 2004. "Employer-to-employer flows in the U.S. labor market: the complete picture of gross worker flows," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-34, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  20. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2009. "The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
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  22. Bonin, Holger & Eichhorst, Werner & Florman, Christer & Hansen, Mette Okkels & Skiöld, Lena & Stuhler, Jan & Tatsiramos, Konstantinos & Thomasen, Henrik & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2008. "Report No. 19: Geographic Mobility in the European Union: Optimising its Economic and Social Benefits," IZA Research Reports 19, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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